It was an "all eyes on me" moment for the gay and lesbian community when Fridae organised the first ever Nation party to celebrate Singapore's National Day. Touted by Agence France-Presse as Singapore's "coming out" party, Nation 2001 delivered a night of fun! frolic! and fabulosity! as gay men and women took tentative steps out of their closets and let their hair down at Singapore's first ever circuit party.
As the hype began to build up, there was much speculation (and fear) that Nation 2001 would never take place in "straight"-laced Singapore. Fortunately, the party proceeded as planned with waves after waves of gay men turning up in less clothes than the Pussycat Dolls and in the process, causing many a fag hag to ovulate on the spot.
Thus as Singapore celebrates her 36th birthday, the Nation crowd partied the night away in a style of their own - with drags queens performing to patriotic songs and a beauty pageant for chicks with dicks.
Venue: Sentosa's Fantasy Island
Crowd: 1,500 partygoers, mainly from Singapore.
Highlights: A foam party and the crowning of a queen in the "Miss Divastating 2001" beauty pageant.
BBC: What do you say to those who would argue that there is precious little for Singapore's gay community to celebrate? You know homosexuality is illegal or homosexual acts are illegal and there is a huge endemic prejudice against gay men and women in Singapore.
Dr Stuart Koe (CEO, Fridae): Well, definitely there is a huge prejudice against gay man and women in Singapore. As you stated very correctly, homosexual acts are illegal in Singapore. However being gay or lesbian is not illegal and certainly, it's not illegal being a gay and lesbian person in Singapore throwing a dance party and neither is it illegal for a gay and lesbian (person) in Singapore to celebrate National Day along with the rest of the country. So, it's definitely a grey area - the actual statute that says that homosexuality is illegal is a law that we inherited from the British in the 19th Century. That's what we have to live with but it certainly doesn't stop gays and lesbians from existing in Singapore. It certainly doesn't stop us from living our lives normally like anybody else.
Did you attend Nation 2001? Share your thoughts and views here!
The second Nation party caused many a gay club along the Tanjong Pagar stretch to empty out faster than shouts of "Police Raid!" and was soundly blamed for the island-wide spike in saliva deficiency (all that drooling) and severe lip cramps (all that air-kissing) experienced by the gay and lesbian community the day after Singapore's Nation Day.
With a turnout that was double that of the first Nation party, Nation.02, with its theme of "One People, One Nation, One Party" was widely regarded as an improvement on the inaugural party. More importantly, the sight of wide-eyed Muscle Marys practicing their group-dance-hug-huddle thing in front of the Musical Fountain will forever be seared onto the retinas of Nation revelers that year.
On a personal note, Nation.02 was especially unforgettable for yours truly because I was designated Fridae's welcoming committee to Van Darkholme who found me so intoxicating that he commented that I "smelled like a French whore."
(Editor's Note: Actually the term is reserved for a person who has the habit of overdosing on really really cheap perfume.)
Venue: Sentosa's Fountain Gardens
Crowd: 2,500 including revelers from countries like Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and even USA.
Highlights: Guest appearance by Los Angeles-based Asian dungeon master, Van (whip me! cuff me!) Darkholme and a most impressive debut by Kinemat involving lasers, stage pyrotechnics and plant-withering flame shooters.
Press-worthy quote: "Trunk-clad hotties and bikini babes infused the party atmosphere, with a glitter galore of sequined outfits, sparkling costumes, and organza coats… Nation 02 is Singapore's unparalleled alternative party!" (8 Days magazine (Singapore))
Did you attend Nation 2002 or catch a glimpse of Van Darkholme? Share your thoughts and views here!
The way the party people were screaming (or blowing their whistles) in transcendental bliss at Nation.03, you would have thought that Daniel Henney was masturbating onstage. The most well attended of all the Nation parties, Nation.03 received unprecedented positive press coverage and cemented Singapore's reputation as "Asia's new gay entertainment capital" (Agence France-Presse).
The scene at Sentosa that night was reminiscent of the Zion sex-rave scene in Matrix Reloaded (2003) - albeit with better sweat-soaked bodies. Perhaps the gay and lesbian community turned out in force to celebrate an increasingly "open society" under then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong who revealed in Time Asia Magazine that the Singapore Government allows gay people to take up sensitive positions in the civil service.
Whatever the reason, Nation.03 officially put Singapore on everyone's gaydar as THE Asian mecca for homo-pilgrims and became THE most anticipated event on the party calendar of every gay man and woman in Singapore.
Venue: Sentosa's Musical Fountain
Crowd: 5,000 including 1,200 visitors from all over the world.
Highlights: Introduction of the mega-circuit party format with the "gay-iety" spread over three days starting with a Welcome Party at Why Not? Bar, the main Nation.03 event and a Poolside Recovery party at Big Splash.
Press-worthy quote: "Nation is no longer 'just a dance party'. In there short years, Nation has evolved into a major celebration of social diversity and acceptance. Singapore as a country has moved towards being a society highly tolerant of diversity, and Nation reflects this shift in mindset." (Gay activist and Fridae contributor Alex Au as interviewed by The New Paper)
Did you attend the Welcome Party, Nation.03, the Poolside Recovery Party or all of them? Share your thoughts and views here!